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[Preview] Super Wild Card Weekend: the heart of the matter

Like last year, during the first week of post-season competition, the NFL don’t just give us a Wild Card Weekend, but a SUPER Wild Card Weekend. Six meetings, spread out from Saturday to Monday. While Green Bay and Tennessee will watch it from afar, the other 12 teams will be thrown into the deep end. No more room for error now.

AT Kansas City, a duel in particular will interest us between the launcher of the Chiefs and one of the contenders for Defender of the Year. Focus also on Deebo Samuel and Nick Sirianni this week-end. We also focus on the bengals who haven’t won in the playoffs for ages. Finally, even in the playoffs, the division duels remain special. We’ll dissect the two from this weekend.

The duel: TJ Watt vs. Patrick Mahomes

Kick-off in the night from Sunday to Monday at 02:15
Kansas City Chiefs (2) – Pittsburgh Steelers (7)

Rare are the matches where the best players of each team face each other head-on. For this Sunday Night Football playoff version, this will be the case. On the one hand, Patrick Mahomes is the engine of Chiefs. When the quarterback is in good shape, this team is nearly unstoppable. If his start to the season was below his standards, he has recovered well for several weeks (4839 yards, 37 TDs and 13 INTs). For his defense, however, it is the opposite. The squad of Steve Spagnuolo kept the team afloat for a while, but has been down in pace for a while. Results, Patrick Mahomes is obliged to make us Patrick Mahomes if Kansas City wants to pass the obstacle Pittsburgh. The problem is that a man will try to stop her. And it must be said that he does it quite well.

TJ Watt just tied the single-season sack record of Michael Strahan. With 22.5 units it is now in the history books. He must now continue to make his mark on the NFL, and that goes through a good performance in the playoffs. He is the figurehead of the pass-rush of Steelers. With 55 bags, the Yellows and Blacks are the best in the league in this area. They are a constant danger to opposing pitchers. But the challenge of TJ Watt and all that pass-rush will be big on Sunday night. Kansas City is one of the teams that best protects its quarterback. Since the start of the season, Patrick Mahomes was only achieved at 28 recoveries (4th in the league), despite a changing offensive line. It is in any case the key to this match and the winner of the duel between TJ Watt and Patrick Mahomes will certainly allow his team to reach the Divisional Round.

Player: Deebo Samuel

Kick-off Sunday at 10:30 p.m.
Dallas Cowboys (3) – San Francisco 49ers (6)

He is perhaps the best player in this game. In any case, he is undoubtedly the one who delivers the best season. Deebo Samuel is the weapon (not really) secret of Kyle Shanahan. A player who instantly raises their attack level when lined up. It must be said that he is capable of doing everything. In the air, with 1405 receiving yards (5th highest total this season) and 6 TDs, but also on the ground with 365 yards and 8 TDs. And if we saw him throw a touchdown pass last week against the rams, it is also because it is very effective in trick plays.

dallas is warned, it will have to be contained. For this, the defense has a guarantor. Above all, it has players like Trevon Diggs Where Micah Parsons able to break the rhythm of an attack. On the other side of the ball, the offensive squad of Cowboys regained confidence in philadelphia but is not yet the steamroller of the start of the season. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Cee Dee Lamb and will the others manage to find the right formula? Otherwise, the 49ers have a good chance of achieving the first surprise of these playoffs.

Coach: Nick Sirianni

Kick-off Sunday at 7:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2) – Philadelphia Eagles (7)

They are seven to have been recruited last year to live their first year as a coach in a new team. But among Brandon Staley, Arthur Smith, David Culley, Robert Saleh, Dan Campbell, Urban Meyer and Nick Sirianni, only one has not yet finished his season. The trainer of philadelphia is indeed the only one “rookies” to qualify for the playoffs. A very good sign for the franchise when its recruitment, almost a year ago, was far from the flashiest. It now remains to play this match in the post-season. And it is an understatement to say that the Eagles will not be favorites on Sunday.

The men of Siriani indeed have to move Florida to face the defending champion. A duel that does not seem to the advantage of the visitors, but one thing is certain, they will not deviate from their course of action. This is also the strength of the coach and his Eagles (and what made them successful), they have found a real identity and stick to it. The ground game is their main weapon and they don’t intend to give it up (159.7 yards/game). Against them, they will have one of the best defenses in this sector. (92.5 units/game, 3rd in the league). Be careful though, Tampa Bay cashed 150 and 110 yards racing for the past two weeks. philadelphia will therefore try to exploit this possible flaw, even if the locals should find a lot of life force (Shaq Barrett, Lavonta David, Jason Pierre-Paul…). The Eagles have no choice because on the other side of the ball, Tom Brady (5316 yards, 43 TDs and 12 TDs) and his people will score points. Despite the absences this offensive squad remains extremely dangerous with players like mike evans (74 receptions, 1035 yards and 14 TDs) Where Rob Gronkowski (55 receptions, 802 yards and 6 TDs) Nick Sirianni his people must therefore keep pace.

The stat: 31 years old

Kick-off Saturday at 10:30 p.m.
Cincinnati Bengals (4) – Las Vegas Raiders (5)

Here are the many years that separate the bengals of their last victory in the playoffs. Since 31 years, Cincinnati did not achieve the slightest success in the post-season. First because they haven’t had much chance (only 7 qualifications since 1990). Then because each time they fell as soon as they entered the race as between 2011 to 2015. To the point of thinking of a curse. But this time, the franchise may have found the right man: Joe Burrow. Selected with the first choice last year, he has already made his team change in size in a season and a half. A division title later, here he is at the head of a formation that will host this match of wild cards. The opportunity or never to break this black series.

For that, it will be necessary to beat Vegas. The Raiders are among the miracles of these playoffs. After a lot of turmoil during the year, they were able to straighten their boat on the home straight. Four consecutive wins to end the regular season and here they are in the playoffs. But the men of Rich Bisaccia don’t come to Cincinnati as an expiatory victim. Derek Carr, who will play the first playoff game of his career, wants to seize his chance to prove that he has reached a level. Above all, Vegas will rely on his pass-rush to try to make a difference. It is on this point that they must make the difference. First because they have players capable of weighing on the game. Maxx Crosby coming off an amazing 18 week and Clelin Ferell, Yannick Ngakoue or Quinton Jefferson form a quality group. Then because it is clearly the weak point of this attack of the bengals. Cincinnati can’t protect Joe burrow and the quarterback is the most sacked pitcher in the league. Watch out for the wave of Raiders.

Division Duels

Kick-off in the night from Saturday to Sunday at 2:15 a.m.
Buffalo Bills (3) – New England Patriots (6)

Kick-off in the night from Monday to Tuesday at 02:15
Los Angeles Rams (4) – Arizona Cardinals (5)

It is often a shame to see two teams from the same division compete in the playoffs. Usually, we like novelty, original duels. But these two games are different and the excitement in the approach of these meetings is very present. The division duels will begin in prime time on Saturday with the displacement of New England at buffalo. The two teams left back to back in the regular season. An away win everywhere, ball in the middle. The beauty will therefore play Arthur Park and she promises to be defensive. It’s simple, it will be an opportunity to see the two best squads in the league compete. The men of Sean McDermott only cash 17 points per game (1st), where the Patriots barely do less well with 17.8 units allowed per game (2nd). Not sure that the points are at the rendezvous in the cold of buffalo, but that does not mean that this meeting will be devoid of intensity and suspense.

To see the other division duel, we will have to wait until the very end of this weekend of competition. For the first time of the NFL modern, a game of Wild Cards will be played on a Monday evening. This Monday Night Football will see Los Angeles to welcome Arizona. Here again, the two franchises did not manage to decide between themselves during their confrontations of the NFC West in the regular season. This time, each team managed to go for the away win. It is, moreover, a habit for Cardinals which displays a balance sheet of 8 wins for only one loss out of their bases. The dynamic, however, seems to be in the opposite camp. The men of Kliff Kingsbury stay on 4 losses in 5 games, while the rams only lostonly one meeting in their last 7 games. Advantage for the premises therefore.

The posters

Kick-off Saturday at 10:30 p.m.
Cincinnati Bengals (4) – Las Vegas Raiders (5)
Kick-off in the night from Saturday to Sunday at 2:15 a.m.
Buffalo Bills (3) – New England Patriots (6)

Kick-off Sunday at 7:00 p.m.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2) – Philadelphia Eagles (7)
Kick-off Sunday at 10:30 p.m.
Dallas Cowboys (3) – San Francisco 49ers (6)
Kick-off in the night from Sunday to Monday at 02:15
Kansas City Chiefs (2) – Pittsburgh Steelers (7)

Kick-off in the night from Monday to Tuesday at 02:15
Los Angeles Rams (4) – Arizona Cardinals (5)

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